Archive for » May, 2013 «

Character Spotlight: Cathal

For this character spotlight I thought I’d focus on my dragon, Cathal. He’s one of the two POV’s in the short story Wandering to Belong. As usual I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but if you’ve not read the story you may wish to before reading this.

Because the story mostly focuses on Aneira and the goblin horde I didn’t get to provide very much of a background on this character and in truth I’m not sure I entirely know it all. Cathal has a very closed personality and knows his own mind well, but that’s pretty much to be expected from the fact that he is the last dragon alive that he’s aware of and he’s lived a very long time.

He’s the sort of person/creature to ask more questions than he answers and to keep a watchful eye on things around him, interfering when he deems it necessary but not before.

As detailed in the story with Aneira he has some magical abilities the standard human doesn’t. He can gift the dragon form ability on to anyone he desires, although this has a limited use (not stated in the story). While he uses it to give Aneira the home she’s always wanted and ensure neither of them are the last of their kinds, the gift was originally given to dragons so they could find mates among whichever race they wished. Although it doesn’t state it in this story, this was done by Tanayth, to try and ensure they didn’t die out.

Over the many years on this planet they’ve turned all sorts of races, including elves into dragons (yes I do plan to tell some of those stories at some point) which is why Cathal can also heal others and has some resistance to the poison the goblins use. Elves have been gifted certain powers by Tanayth as well.

Cathal is several hundred years old in this book and unless I change my mind really is the last of the dragons. I mostly want them to be in the past when it comes to the majority of fantasy stories set in this world so I’m limiting them somewhat. Otherwise I’m going to end up with one very all powerful creature.

Broken City: A Review

I was given a copy of this book by the author, D. D. Chant, in return for a review.

I really enjoyed the setting on this book and the tribe like structure of the world. Post apocalyptic novels fascinated me in the way so many authors can write such a similar theme in so many varied ways, and this was yet another really interesting take on what society would do afterwards.

The characters were great and there was the usual YA blend of action, romance and focus on who’s partnering up with who and who’s wearing what etc.

The plot had some great twists and I really didn’t see the book ending quite the way it did, which was great. I like those kinds of surprises.

My one moan about the book has to be the lack of detail of the final battles. I really wanted to know what was happening outside and follow the POV of one of the other chracters and be involved but we stayed with the MC and only saw things from her POV which was more limited during that section of the book. Unfortunately I felt it took some of the tension out of the climax of the book.

I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

Knowing When to Break the Rules

When it comes to writing anything there are rules. Grammar rules, spelling rules, style rules, layout rules, format rules and all sorts of other rules to do with genres, characters etc.

The first hurdle is learning all these rules but if all of them were obeyed 100% of the time the books, films, poems and everything else we write would be rather boring if they all followed all the rules. We’d all sound similar and nothing would feel that unique.

So here’s some of the reasons I break the rules:

If the emphasis of a sentence is lost if I stick to the grammar rules I occasionally have something not quite so correct. Often this is when the subject of the sentence isn’t what I actually want to focus on. I probably only do this with 2-3 sentences in an entire book though.

The only other grammar rule I break is because I think the language has moved on and it involves the ellipses. I always miss the space before and have it follow on the previous word like this… rather than likes this … because the ellipses was origionally used when quoting to note that something had been missed out, and when that’s why I’m using it I still put the space before in there but I also use an ellipses when a character trails off a sentence and then it’s used online without the space beforehand.

I also occasionally break the ‘rule’ not to use passive voice as again it can help get the right emphasis to break the rule. There are some other good examples of breking these sorts of rules. The line ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before’ breaks the rule of not splitting infinitives. ‘to go’ is being split by ‘boldly’ but ‘to go boldly’ doesn’t sound right.

There are also rules about not having scenes in books and films unless they move the plot forward but occasionally I keep a scene that’s just character based and helps the reader get to know the character. While this can slow the pace of a book it also helps the reader feel connected to the people they’re reading about. A balance should be struck between these two. My editor and proof-readers weigh in heavily on whether I keep these scenes or not as they are less attached to the characters than I am.

There are a few others I’ve broken over the years writing but they always come down to whether I think they add to the overall storyline, feel and point of the piece. It’s important to remember that the rules are there for a reason but sometimes breaking them just works.

Star Trek, Into Darkness: A Review

This is one of the many films on my list to see at the cinema this year. It’s the second of the new sort of rebooted star trek films and I loved the first so here’s what I thought.

It started right in the mdidle of some action which is always a good sign for an action film and the action just kept coming. There was the odd thought provoking moment or funny comical snippet but for the most part this was action sequence after action sequence. The only annoying thing is the funniest part of the action was totally in the trailor and I didn’t laugh because I’d seen that bit already, several times.

Plot wise I think this one was weaker than the previous. It was still an all right plot but I think it focused a bit too much on the one single thing and didn’t have the complication of the previous one.

Despite the lesser plot it was still funny and definitely still hilarious to see the growing and changing relationship between new Kirk and new Spock. It’s so easy to get gags with the whole Vulcan logic stuff but they also managed to have some really heartfelt moments thanks to it as well. Vulcans sure are complicated and this film presented them well.

In terms of characterisation it was also great. The interaction between everyone was perfect and I really really liked Bones and Sulu in this one. I also totally loved when Kirk said revenge wasn’t right and there was a lot of moral thought provoking stuff.

On top of that there were also some great throwbacks to the original set of films and yet again, our gorgeous older Spock appeared. I won’t say when, why or how and plot spoil but they included him and it made me squee in delight.

Finally this brings me to one of my favourite actors, Benedict Cumberbatch. Now you may have twigged already that he’s my favourite actor in this film because of the three photos I’ve included which all feature him but I’d like to say this is not my fault. The Star Trek advertisers seem to have decided that they don’t need to let you know about anyone else in tha cast and almost every single poster, picture, ad etc. features our evil genius & nemesis, Benedict Cumberbatch.

I still can’t decide what I think of his character. He came across as really rather cold and while I normally love the roles this actor plays I really didn’t like this one. This isn’t a bad boy you can love or even love to hate, this is a bad guy who’s a real bad guy. As such I didn’t like him, at all.

He was super bad-ass, don’t get me wrong, there was a certain amount of coolness about some of the stuff he did, but boy was he cold! It’s either really really good acting and deliberate or bad acting and unintentional and I can’t decide which, but it did leave me a little dissapointed.

So to sum it up. It was a good action film and amusing enough but the plot and Cumberbatch left me wanting more.

Marvel fan fiction

I recently had an idea for a new superhero that could be easily set in the Marvel universe and shortly after that had a creation idea for her, so I thought over the next little while I could try and write some fan fiction. I’m not going to write huge amounts but I’m going to aim to write a little bit more every week.

I figured the best place for this kind of thing was probably wattpad, as they allow the serial nature of writing a story in installments. Seeing as I talk about Marvel films here a fair bit, I thought I’d share my story here too.

There’s not huge plot in mind for this yet. I’m not even sure who the badguy is going to be, but I thought I could start at the start and just see what happens. Who knows I might end up with loads of super hero stories, I might not but sometimes I just have to write something because it’s fun, not because I want someone to pay me for it.

So here’s the link to what I’ve got so far – Loki’s Creation

Dark days, The Long Road Home: A Review

This is the first book out by the author L. M. May and I was gifted a copy in return for my honest review, so here’s my thoughts.

This was one of those books I thought I’d like when reading the blurb and I was right. It’s standard end of the world fiction with a pretty good romance thrown in on top.

The characters were all well fleshed out and I even fell in love with a few of the supporting characters the people met along the way and I really liked that this book focused on the little things humanity might do, the way people would feel and how things would deteriorate on a more personal level. Everything was shown through the little things people did rather than bigger things and I felt it made the book more personal and easy to relate too.

There was a little bit of head hopping between the two main characters in the first few chapters which had me confused at a few points, but this soon sorted out and from then on in chapters stuck to a characters POV, so if anyone else gets bothered by that don’t give up on the book.

All in all a good read. It’s left me wanting to know how long it took to actually sort things out (and had me researching the possible problems a similar siuation might have if it did actually happen today).

I’ll definitely be picking up more books by this author.

Kindle Fire giveaway

The Indiethon.com website is doing a kindle fire giveaway this month, which also includes some ebooks from my collection, to the right there.

There are many different ways to enter and all are managed by the very lovely program/website/tool/thing called rafflecoptor. It walks you through what you need to do to be entered (including liking my facebook page and following me on twitter, so a bunch of you already have a head start).

In total there are 50, one off ways you can be entered into the raffle and another 5 daily ways, so there is plenty of opportunity to get yourself a chance of winning that amazing Kindle fire. You should be able to do all that in the widget below.

Also throughout the month there’s going to be lots of blog posts where all of the authors involved, including me, talk about writing and many other related things. So come join in the fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Iron Man 3: A Review

I was very excited about this film coming out as I loved the Avengers and mostly thanks to Iron Man, so here’s what I thought of this latest Marvel epic.

The trailor made out that this was going to be quite a dark film, with no way near as much one liners and lots of explosions and action sequences. And while this was sort of true as it was about inner demons it still had a much more light-hearted feel than I expected.

There was the usual Tony stark responses that showed the speed and slight instability of his mind but it showed some characters improvement above and beyond the first two films. In short, it was a great sequel, because the characterisation was spot on.

For me there’s nothing worse than a sequel that feels like it’s been written by someone else who doesn’t have the same opinion of the character. Tony was spot on, so much so there were a few things he said that made me suck in my breath and wince, but that’s what he’d have said so I can’t really fault it.

In terms of action there was plenty, lots of iron man style stunts and generally saving the day from the evil badguy stuffs. And the final action sequence at the end was fantastic. Iron Man showed up, with extras and boy was that whole section amazing. sometimes obsessions make for awesome viewing.

On top of that I think the supporting cast really need some honourable mentiones because they’ve really grown while doing this series. Pepper was fantastic and actually almost stole the show for me. She had some fantastic lines and that lady can seriously act! I also loved Jarvis but I always love Jarvis so there’s nothing new there, but he was extra special in this one.

This does mean there are a lot of great quotes from this film, way more than I expected, which is one of the best things to take home from this one.

Despite all these good points I do have a few issues. I didn’t actually like the ending few minutes (not including the after credits bit, that was hilarious) and wish Marvel hadn’t felt the need to make the film series feel so wrapped up, done and dusted kind of thing. Whether Downey Jr wants to do more Iron Man or not it didn’t need to feel so final. I want hope!

So to finish. Definitely better than Iron Man 2, jury is still out on whether it’s better than the first. I did enjoy it though and now I’m really looking forward to the next Avengers film.

Character Spotlight: Alexander Hayes

Also known as Captain Hayes, this is the male counterpart character in With Proud Humility. As I said with the last one of these I did. If you haven’t read the book already it might be worth checking it out at the above link. I will try to keep spoilers at a minimum but the point of these blogs is that they are extras to compliment the books I write.

With Proud Humility is the first of my published novels and the basic idea popped into my head while I was in the shower one day. The initial section that came to me was the meeting between Hayes and Marie and then the bit, a couple of months down the line when they are on the island and there’s that big decision moment for Hayes that he’s forced to make by the villian. The story and characters sort of grew out of there really but I think I owe the inspiration to a couple of people.

I’d decided that I wasn’t really going to write any more not long after I got to Uni and it wasn’t until a friend called Dan asked why I stopped that I realised I didn’t really know why. I’d always loved writing and nothing had changed.

Captain Hayes

Hayes was soon making himself known and sharing space in my head and while I was getting to know him I realised he was a bit of a cross between Jack Sparrow and another friend of mine called Dylan (who happened to be pretty good friends with Dan). Although, he ended up a lot more like Dylan and a bit like Sean Bean by the time I’d finished and less like Jack Sparrow.

Dylan, Dan and me played and MMO called Puzzle pirates (featured right) and Dylan was our Captain, which is, I suppose, where the resemblance came from. But Sean Bean is definitely who I’d want to play him if Hollywood ever decided to turn my swashbuckling epic into a film.

When I first had Hayes in my head I thought he was going to be my antagonist and Vane would be a very minor character but as I explored the characters further I realised he would have this major turning point where he would choose something good over something evil and I couldn’t condemn him to the depths of evilness.

Despite this book being almost completely written from Marie’s POV I always seemed to know what Hayes was thinking, even when Marie didn’t. I probably knew him and his ambitions and goals better than I did her. Something about this character just spoke to me.

He had seen a lot of life before ever meeting Marie and seemed quite happy doing his own thing and being his own boss. His crew adore him and know they’ll fare well, get paid well, and have plenty of adventure along the way. Like Marie he wasn’t entirely happy with the way his social class worked and didn’t respond well to the expectations of his parents. This led to him leaving home and buying his first ship at an early age.

I don’t think Hayes and Marie really realised it themselves, but this probably led to him falling in love with her. She was everything his mother wasn’t. She bucked the trend, did what she wanted and although she infuriated him for not just falling in with his plans, she also proved she wanted similar things to him. To be free to be herself in a social class full of rules and regulations.

Hayes is one of those sorts of people that’s able to adapt to anything. He thinks fast and nothing much fazes him, except being disobeyed, so he’ll be pretty calm and collected no matter what happens.

He’s got boundaries (evidenced by how un-harshly he treats Marie about half way through the book) but he is willing to sacrifice a few things to reach his goals. Probably because he understands the rules are different in 19th century Caribbean compared to 19th Century England. The Caribbean is cuthroat and only the strong survive.

Oh and on top of that he’s an excellent sword-fighter. Well, you’d kinda have to be wouldn’t you? With all those ship to ship battles and the boarding that would be required. Thankfully sword-fighting was something any respectable gentleman could learn when growing up and it was considered to be the height of fashion to wear the cutlass when going about England. One of the few useful things about being in the first class. Although, he takes this a step further when he teaches Marie but he did it as much for himself as her. It was his way of saying he also didn’t agree with society and it’s ridiculous rules, which was the one major thing Marie and him have in common.

What Happened in Witches Wood: A Review

This book was given to me by the author in return for a review.

I totally loved the book before this in the series, A Class Apart, and was thrilled when the author, Stephen Henning said I’d be welcome to have this one as well. It’s even better than the first and continues on pretty much where the first left off.

The plot was great and kept me wanting to turn the pages and come back to the book if I had to put it down. There were a few moments when I figured out what was happening before the twins did but considering their ages in the book I think that’s probably more realistic. They aren’t going to figure every little thing out at the first opportunity.

On top of that I thought the way the rumours about the location and previous strange events was weaved with the story was brilliant.

As I said when reviewing the first I loved reading about places I knew. I grew up in Suffolk, near a wood that had similar rumours about it and it made this book come alive and feel so real.

Best book I’ve read this year so far.